We have been spending our last few days in Australia at a quaint sea-side town called Port Douglas, which is situated on the top right hand corner of Oz. With only about 3000 residents, this tropical island like town can double in size during its peak season from the influx of tourists. Some trivia:
* Bill and Hillary Clinton vacationed here a couple of times, and were apparently having dinner at one of the town’s restaurants when they were advised of the September 11, 2001 attacks. They returned to the US the following day.
* Steve Irwin, aka “The Crocodile Hunter” died at a reef just off the coast of Port Douglas when he was stung by a sting ray.
We are renting an ocean facing self-catering apartment for six nights, and have been doing what most tourists do – not much! The weather has been fabulous – we even managed to fit in a little bit of kite-boarding on two of the days when the wind picked up from its usual gentle breeze. Another morning we went for a short hike through a rain-forest nature reserve, just in-land from Port Douglas. I never imagined Australia to look like this – The outback, Aire’s Rock etc had always come to mind when I pictured this country. The Australian landscape is so diverse.
The only draw back to this beautiful place, is the potentially deadly jelly fish that are found in these waters at a certain time of the year. We are at the tail-end of the “danger season”, but were still advised not to swim in the water. They have a small demarcated swimming area that is boxed-off by stinger nets – similar to shark nets I suppose. A bit frustrating when you are faced with a glorious ocean, but you can’t fully enjoy it. When we kite-boarded we had to wear a “stinger” suit, a light-weight type of wetsuit that covers most of your skin.
On one of our lazy afternoons, I snuck out to a nearby wildlife sanctuary. (Andy preferred the couch and his MacBook!) The sanctuary is home to some of Australia’s indigenous wildlife including kangaroos and koala bears. I was thrilled to be able to see these marsupials in real life – they are cute beyond words! I learned that a baby kangaroo is called a joey. Not be confused with the smaller breed of kangaroo called wallabies. And there are many types of wallabies too. One highlight was when a ‘wittle’ wallaby came to eat out of my hand. I wanted to keep him…
Another highlight was watching a joey wriggle in his mom’s pouch, and poke his head out to see what was happening outside. Adorable! I was also lucky enough to see a cuddly koala bear awake – they sleep for 18-20 hours a day! The remainder of their day is spent eating eucalyptus leaves. Not a bad life, I should say!
Sadly, kangaroo meat is sold at the supermarkets, and also appears on some restaurant menus. I was horrified that these animals are bred for their meat. To most Australian farmers, kangaroos are actually pests, so I suppose they don’t mind the delicacy appearing on their plates. Eating other red meat myself, I guess that I am being hypocritical. I mean, where do you draw the line of what is acceptable to eat? Makes me think…
Tomorrow we leave the First World and head to South East Asia. I reckon that I will be pushed a little out of my comfort zone. But therein lies the fun! More exciting stories to come I’m sure!